by CPT Palestine
On Sunday, 28 July, Tel Rumeida settlers set fire to Hani Abu Haikel’s olive grove. The Abu Haikel family has lived in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood for generations, and has been under constant attack from nearby settlers since the settlers arrived in the 1980s.
Members of CPT Hebron arrived as firefighters and internationals were extinguishing the flames with hoses and buckets. Hani Abu Haikel said, “This has become a yearly thing,” elaborating that this marks the eighth time settlers have set his olive grove on fire.
Abu Haikel said the fire started from below a nearby Israeli military base and speculated that the settlers, whom he had seen on his land earlier that day, had spread a flammable substance on the ground. His evidence, besides the smell of burning chemicals from the ashes, was a small patch of ground left unscathed. Settlers had recently planted a garden on Abu Haikel’s grounds in another attempt to push the family off their land. The settler-planted garden in the middle of the blackened grove was untouched by the flames.
Israeli police have offered two responses to multiple complaints filed since the incident. They have said that the culprit is unknown, and video footage from cameras pointing at the trees is top secret, so nothing can be done; and that the trees probably burned “due to natural reasons” in the hot weather.